The Avalanche hosts the Nashville Predators at Pepsi Center Tuesday night, beginning a four-game week in which each opponent is from the Central Division and a stretch of eight games over the first 15 days of the month.
"It's four games for us here. We don't really change our message because it's a Central Division [game] or a different opponent. We're still stressing what we have to do to be successful, get to our game early," said head coach Jared Bednar after Monday's practice at Family Sports. "Obviously, the importance is elevated a little bit because it's in the division, but we just want to make sure we're focusing on our game and playing the right way."
Last Time Out
The Avalanche (4-3-0) is coming off a 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night. Matt Duchene scored twice and Calvin Pickard stopped 24-of-26 shots to propel Colorado to its fourth victory of the young season.
Nashville (2-5-1) enters Tuesday's game on a three-game winless streak which includes a 4-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night. James Neal scored the team's lone goal, and Pekka Rinne finished with 23 saves on 26 shots.
Stacking Up: Offense and Defense
The Avalanche's offense ranks 16th in the league with 2.71 goals per game (19 on the season) while the Predators come in at 26th with 2.38 goals per game.
Colorado's defense is holding teams to 2.71 goals per game, which ranks 16th in the NHL, while Nashville's 3.50 goals against per game average clocks in at 26th.
Stacking Up: Special Teams
The Avs' power play ranks eighth in the league with a 25% success rate, and the penalty kill has not allowed a goal in its last 158:30 of play. Colorado has killed 10 straight penalties-a season high for consecutive penalty kills-and has been successful on 15 of the last 16 times shorthanded.
That PK will go up against what is currently the league's top power-play unit, which is 10-for-28 on the season (35.7%) and has been successful on 33.3% of opportunities on the road. Nashville's penalty kill ranks 29th in the league, allowing nine power-play goals through its first eight contests. Only two teams (Calgary and Chicago) have given up more power-play goals.
Player to Watch
Colorado: Matt Duchene
Duchene leads the Avs with five goals and seven points, all of which have come in Colorado's last four games. His two game-winning goals are also a team high, as Duchene tallied the winner--his second marker of the game--on Saturday against the Coyotes.
"I like what he did the other night. [Trying to find consistency] is real important. I think he's a guy that helps lead the charge for us especially offensively," said Bednar. "The other night he's doing a lot of good things. He's protecting pucks, hanging onto pucks, he came through the neutral zone with speed. Those offensive guys have to continually shoot pucks and get to the net, and good things are going to happen for them. He certainly did that the other night."
Nashville: P.K. Subban
Avalanche fans will get their first look at P.K. Subban in a Predators jersey on Tuesday. The flashy defenseman was part of a blockbuster offseason trade that sent Shea Weber to the Montreal Canadiens. Subban has put up two goals and three assists in eight contests, averaging 24:15 of ice time per game, which ranks second on the team.
The Avalanche is 31-27-5-6 all time against the Predators and 18-13-2-2 at home. Jarome Iginla has scored 38 career goals against Nashville, which ranks first in the National Hockey League. His 63 points are good for second all-time, and his 13 power-play tallies also rank first.
Matt Duchene has recorded nine goals and 14 assists in the series, which puts him fourth in Avalanche history against the Predators.
Semyon Varlamov is expected to make his fifth start of the season against Nashville on Tuesday. Varlamov has played 17 career games against the Predators, 16 of which have been in an Avalanche uniform. He has posted an 11-5-1 career record against Nashville.
The puck drops at 7 p.m. MT at Pepsi Center, and tickets are still available. The game can be watched live on Altitude TV or heard on Altitude Radio AM 950 and at ColoradoAvalanche.com